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By Craig Haley, FCS Exec. Director - Archive - Email
Ten FCS offensive linemen to watch
Eastern Kentucky features All-OVC tackles Aaron Adams, left, and Patrick Ford.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Matt Denham should consider picking up a restaurant bill or two if he hasn't done so already.

The Eastern Kentucky running back will want to make sure his offensive linemen remain both happy and well-fed.

Denham averaged an absurd 184.5 rushing yards over the Colonels' final eight games last season. Of course, some of the credit has to go to his offensive line, which featured three Ohio Valley Conference first-team selections paving the way.

Two of the players, tackles Aaron Adams and Patrick Ford, are among the best at their position in the Football Championship Subdivision. They join forces with fellow senior O.J. Enabosi, a center, to give EKU an incredibly talented offensive line.

Following are 10 FCS defensive linemen to watch this season:

Aaron Adams, Eastern Kentucky, OT, Sr., 6-6, 290 - Adams enjoyed a breakout season last year and might have been the best player on EKU's outstanding O- line. Slightly older at 23, he is a true technician with his hands and feet, always getting in position to stop defenders.

Malcolm Boyd, Liberty, OG, Sr., 6-4, 280 - A leader by example on the offensive line, the gritty Boyd does everything that is asked of him by his coaches. He is fundamentally sound in pass blocking, allowing only one sack last season while earning All-Big South Conference first-team honors. The Flames ranked eighth in the FCS in scoring offense (35.9 ppg).

Evan Conrad, Southeast Missouri State, OT, Sr., 6-3, 305 - Conrad has made 30 career starts, although he was slowed by injury last season. He was a first- team Ohio Valley Conference selection two years ago. He is particularly strong in run blocking, but grades out well all-around.

Gavin Farr, Southern Utah, C, Jr., 6-3, 300 - Great West Conference coaches think so highly of Farr that he was named to their first team despite missing six games with an injury last season. A year earlier, he was the media's choice for Great West Offensive Lineman of the Year as a redshirt freshman (over such players as South Dakota left tackle Tom Compton, the recent NFL Draft choice). Farr is the center for All-America quarterback Brad Sorensen.

Patrick Ford, Eastern Kentucky, OT, Sr., 6-6, 306 - The third-year starter is a versatile player whose physical style works at any position. He was tall and skinny coming out of high school, but has developed his body into an intimidating presence. His father, Gary, was a linebacker on the 1979 EKU national championship team.

Top OL by FCS Conference
Big Sky: Danny Kistler, Montana, OG/OT; Big South: Malcolm Boyd, Liberty, OG; CAA Football: Earl Watford, James Madison, OG; Ivy: Jack Templeton, Brown, OT; MEAC: Blake Matthews, Norfolk State, OT; Missouri Valley: Mark Pratt, Youngstown State, C; NEC: Kadeem Williams, Albany, OT; OVC: Aaron Adams, Eastern Kentucky, OT; Patriot: Mike Vuono, Lehigh, OT; Pioneer: Phede Celestin, Marist, OT; SoCon: Mike Sellers, The Citadel, C; Southland: Alec Savoie, McNeese State, OT; SWAC: Terren Jones, Alabama State, OT


Terren Jones, Alabama State, OT, Sr., 6-7, 325 - Offensive linemen keep getting bigger and bigger, but Jones moves so well despite his massive frame. He understands technique and assignments and couples them with excellent footwork, leg drive and aggression. He overcame an ACL injury last offseason to make the All-SWAC first team as a junior.

Danny Kistler, Montana, OG/OT, Jr., 6-8, 330 - Offensive linemen don't come much bigger than Kistler, who is carving out his place among Grizzlies greats. This season, he is expected to move from left guard to right tackle. No matter where he lines up, he brings excellent technique and a wealth of experience to a team that will pound opponents with its rushing ability.

Blake Matthews, Norfolk State, OT, Sr., 6-4, 315 - Described as an old-school type of offensive lineman, Matthews is an aggressive and intelligent player who uses leverage to go after defenders. He was lightly used until last season, when he came on strong as the MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year for the conference champions. He was named to The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS All-America second team.

Alec Savoie, McNeese State, OT, Sr., 6-7, 332 - Savoie's size doesn't slow him down. The third-year starter anchors the Cowboys' line and is especially strong in pass protection, stopping rushers with his athleticism and foot movement. An All-Southland Conference selection, he produced 38 pancake blocks and 41 knockdowns in a banner junior season.

Earl Watford, James Madison, OG, Sr., 6-4, 290 - It's rare that Watford is caught out of position. He's agile and smart, and uses his hands and feet effectively in both run and pass situations. The All-CAA Football first-team pick, who has made 25 career starts, helped the Dukes average 222.4 rushing yards per game last year (ranking 12th in the FCS).

It's worth noting that All-CAA center Dan Shirey of Villanova was worthy of being on this list, but he ruptured an Achilles this spring and is considered to be lost for the season. He has a medical redshirt remaining, so he could return as a fifth-year senior in 2013.


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